Much to the delight of the locals, a colourful Russian circus rolls into Nuala, but the fun ends abruptly when, on the opening night, a tragic accident takes place.
Shanti de Silva and his wife, Jane are among the crowd to witness the accident. Or was it an accident? Inspector de Silva senses murder, and soon, he’s juggling with the evidence. Will the trail lead to the circus’s dashing stunt rider and master of horse, Alexei Goncharov, or to Alexei’s brother Boris, its boisterous ringmaster? Throw a string of jewel thefts and some deadly snakes into the mix and the list of suspects grows.
De Silva will need to keep his wits about him to unravel yet another absorbing puzzle in this charming and addictive mystery series set in the 1930s in exotic Ceylon.
Returning to Nuala in 1930s Ceylon is always a pleasure. The courteous Inspector Shanti de Silva and his delightful wife Jane have an active social life in the pleasant Hill town and on this occasion, it includes a visit to a travelling Russian circus. Shanti is not looking forward to the performance of the snake charmer, but he enjoys watching the clowns and the high wire act until there is a disaster. Shanti’s boss, Archie Clutterbuck, does not consider the death of a Russian a relevant problem to the local police force, but the detective is determined to check the circumstances.
This volume of the series involves Shanti in undercover work and his Sergeant, Prasanna excels himself. Add in the fear of poisonous snakes, rivalry between two female performers and another case involving jewellery burglary and you have an exciting, action-packed tale. The story is further enhanced by detailed descriptions of parts of the locality.
The vicarage’s mellow stone walls basked in the afternoon sunshine. As if to remind viewers of its inhabitants calling, the tall windows were set in pointed Gothic arches decorated with carvings that were more modest versions of those at the church. A vigorous soft-pink rose spread its branches between the windows, also scrambling over the roof of the deep entrance porch. The latter was decorated with a fleur-de-lis pattern of faded blue on a yellowish-cream glaze, well-worn by many years of footsteps; the front door was a massive piece of oak.
The escapades of kittens, Billy and Bella, are a pleasant interlude between progress in the case and dire danger to our hero. I particularly enjoyed this novel and can see it as an episode in a cosy crime TV series similar to Death in Paradise.
High Wire in Nuala on Amazon UK
To read my review of Trouble in Nuala the first book in the series
Harriet Steel is a British author who writes a series of widely praised, atmospheric mysteries in a traditional style. A few years ago, she spent time on the beautiful island of Sri Lanka and this is where they are set, but in the 1930s rather than the modern day, when it was still the British colony of Ceylon. Her love of history, art, and travel influences her writing, and she also published four historical novels before turning to crime.
Born in London, her family then moved to a farm in the country where she grew up. She later studied law at Cambridge University and was a lawyer for many years before becoming a writer. She would love to go back in time and spend a day having lunch with Hercule Poirot, tea with Miss Marple, and dinner at the Ritz with Lord Peter Wimsey.